Saturday, June 7, 2008

Is a Super Car a super car?

The term "Super Car" probably was coined in the 80ies. Lamborhini Miura, Ferrari Daytona and BB, Porsche Turbo and others really defined the benchmark of what was possible. And we had fairly empty streets, much less speed limits and the regular car for most people was a VW Golf, Open Kadett or Renault R5, barely able to go beyond 160 km/h. So Supercars really were super. But how is it today? What can you really do with cars producing 600+ HP and going faster than 300 km/h? Where do we want to leverage these impressive performance figures and the ecquisit handling? Any Golf GTI does 200 km/h, even a family estate car like the BMW 330i produces 272 HP, which is substantially more than a Ferrari 308 GTB in the 80ies. So wouldn't it be time for Engineers to do something better than adding more power and more weight to the so called Supercar? Ferrari announced that they want to change the direction and produce lighter and smaller cars in the future, however the new Ferrari California with a heavy top construction is not a good evolution in this sense. Maybe the Artega GT is a more modern Super Car? Maybe, at least it's less heavy than most others. In my eyes the next generation Super Car should have the following characteristics:
  • Effective both on the track and on regular roads
  • Great looks
  • Impressive sound (specifically towards the driver)
  • Doing at least 250 km/h and 0-100 in less than 6 seconds while still consuming less gasoline than most family cars
There's not much to choose from today, Lotus had a good grip on this, but even the Elise almost added 300 kg over the last 10 years. I remember that my own Elise Mk1 with alluminium disk brakes was moving less than 700 kg of weight, while the latest versions are closer to 925 kg.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gaisberg 2008

The idea of bringing vintage race cars and sport cars together, having them climb a hill and pushing them around the Salzburgring is really excellent. It's so much fun and even the rain couldn't stop the happy faces of the drivers. A really impressive mixture of cars found its way to Salzburg, from Alfa P3 to Porsche 904 GTS, from Borgward to Aston Martin DB3S. The goal of the competition was regularity, but many of the drivers stepped on the throttle and achieved impressive lap times at the Salzburgring. My Devin TR 1957 behaved well and was impressively quick. It was so much more fun to drive than many of the modern cars I have been using lately.
Gaisberg, see you again, next year!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Living with a Toyota Prius, the hybrid car for the future?

Now, a Toyota Prius doesn't sound, look and perform like the car, a true petrolhead would buy, you say? Well, yes, that's probably why my wife is driving it. But having used it myself for some thousands of kilometers, I am able to provide my own judgement. And it has to be said - it's different. There's nothing in this car, that makes you happy if you look for driving fun or sportiness. It's quite slow and the faster you go the less fun it is to drive it. I did longer stints on German highways with it and it was aweful. But if you start to understand the car and take it as what it is supposed to be, then it starts to become interesting. Can I do more than 100 kms with 4 liters of fuel? That's the ambition you develop with this car. With how little gasoline can I go how far? Can I do more than 5 kms without using any gasoline, just with the accumulated electricity? You will find youself stopping the aircondition just to lower the gas consumption a bit more. And now it starts to become fun, somewhat. It's different. But to be fair, Toyta was able to build a car that runs quite well, has space for five people and some luggage and can cover long distances without effort. That's quite a convenient truth in today's world, isn't it?